Are you familiar with the distinction between violas and violins? If not, have no fear – you are not alone! Many individuals are unaware of the distinction or believe they are synonymous. This blog post will compare and contrast these two instruments. You will be an expert in violas and violins after reading this post!

The distinction between violins and violas is that violas are larger, utilize a different bow style, have different strings, and have a different sound and tone. Furthermore, violas cost more than violins.

Bowed string instruments include the violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Although their appearance is comparable, the viola is substantially larger than the violin. Generally, people pick between the violin and the viola depending on which instrument sounds better.

The Viola

The viola is the bowed string family’s second highest-pitched instrument. It has a higher pitch than the violin and is lower than the cello. This makes it a good instrument for filling in orchestral and chamber music harmonies.

The viola is not used as often in baroque and classical eras compositions. However, it is modern-day composers who use the instrument more prominently. Additionally, the viola can sometimes be found in popular music, in groups like The Velvet Underground.

Violin vs. Viola

There are five differences between the violin and viola.


The violin is a much smaller instrument than the viola. A typical full-size violin measures approximately 36 cm (14 inches), but a full-size viola measures approximately 40 cm (about 16 inches). However, while its size may vary, it is no less than 38cm. The instrument’s body is also wider and deeper.

The size of the viola is one of the first differences you will notice when looking at it and the violin. The difference is not very big, but it makes a big difference in the sound tone. The viola needs this extra size to be able to play lower frequencies.


The violin and viola each have their own bow. The violin bow is longer and thinner than the viola bow, and it weighs around 10 grams less. This is because the viola’s strings are heavier. As a result, a heavier bow is required to produce a clear sound at lower frequencies.

The frog on a violin bow is larger and curved. This is distinct from the straight edge on a cello bow. This variation in frogs is due to how you hold the bow to create distinct sounds. These distinctions may appear little, yet they significantly impact experienced players.


There are five-stringed violins and violas, but today we will talk about standard four-stringed instruments.

The violin strings are G-D-A-E, starting from the lowest one. The viola, like the violin, is tuned in fifths, but the high E is substituted by a low C one octave below middle C. Additionally, viola strings are slightly larger in diameter than violin strings.

That leads us to a noticeable difference: the sound.

Sound and Tone

The violin’s ability to generate high-pitched clear notes is frequently utilized as a solo or melody instrument. The viola produces lower notes than the violin, but not as low as the cello, and its tone is mellower. This makes the viola perfect for balancing out the sound of string instruments in an orchestra.

Treble vs. Alto Clef

The violin is the highest-ranking instrument in the family of bowed string instruments. This means that it is only played in the treble or G clef. The viola is the sole instrument that can be played in either the alto or C clef.

Occasionally, though, a high note may be written in the treble clef. As a result, violists frequently read both clefs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Viola vs. Violin

Which Is Easier, Violin or Viola?

Many violinists try to find work as violists. This is because the viola parts in ensembles are usually easier than the violin parts. However, studying the viola is just as hard as any other instrument.

Is the Viola Better Than the Violin?

Due to its bigger size and varied tuning, the viola has a lower range than the violin. However, the violin can play higher notes than the viola. If you want to play melodies or become a concertmaster one day, the violin would be a better choice for you.

What Are the 5 Main Differences Between a Violin and Viola?

The violin and viola have four strings each. The notes of each string are different for each instrument. The violin’s strings are G, D, A, and E. E is the highest note on the violin, and G is the lowest note. The viola’s strings are C, G, D, and A. A is the highest note on the viola, and C is the lowest.

Can Violinists Play Viola?

Many famous violinists, like Janine Jansen, have recorded music with the viola. Many violin teachers recommend playing both instruments to improve your technique and tone.

Is Viola Easy to Learn?

The viola is a beautiful, warm instrument with a range between the violin and the cello. Thankfully, learning to play the viola is easier than ever because of new technology.

Should I Play Cello or Viola?

The viola is a great choice of the instrument if you want to make money as a musician in the future. It’s an octave lower than the viola, and its expressive range is really incredible. It can carry the bass or melody, making it a versatile option for students. Plus, the cello is great for students who want to play their instrument while either standing or sitting down.

Is the Viola Higher-Pitched Than the Violin?

Violas are the second highest-pitched string instruments. They usually have a slower sound than violins, deep and mellow. This is because they have thicker strings. Violins are the highest-pitched string instruments.

To learn more information about the differences between a viola and a violin, click here.

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